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An Eclectic Digest of Science, Art and Literature



Modified: 2018-01-23T20:47:40Z

 



No Longer Writing, Philip Roth Still Has Plenty to Say

2018-01-23T20:47:40Z

Charles McGrath in the New York Times: With the death of Richard Wilbur in October, Philip Roth became the longest-serving member in the literature department of the American Academy of Arts and Letters, that august Hall of Fame on Audubon...Charles McGrath in the New York Times: With the death of Richard Wilbur in October, Philip Roth became the longest-serving member in the literature department of the American Academy of Arts and Letters, that august Hall of Fame on Audubon Terrace in northern Manhattan, which is to the arts what Cooperstown is to baseball. He’s been a member so long he can recall when the academy included now all-but-forgotten figures like Malcolm Cowley and Glenway Wescott — white-haired luminaries from another era. Just recently Roth joined William Faulkner, Henry James and Jack London as one of very few Americans to be included in the French Pleiades editions (the model for our own Library of America), and the Italian publisher Mondadori is also bringing out his work in its Meridiani series of classic authors. All this late-life eminence — which also includes the Spanish Prince of Asturias Award in 2012 and being named a commander in the Légion d’Honneur of France in 2013 — seems both to gratify and to amuse him. “Just look at this,” he said to me last month, holding up the ornately bound Mondadori volume, as thick as a Bible and comprising titles like “Lamento di Portnoy” and “Zuckerman Scatenato.” “Who reads books like this?” In 2012, as he approached 80, Roth famously announced that he had retired from writing. (He actually stopped two years earlier.) In the years since, he has spent a certain amount of time setting the record straight. He wrote a lengthy and impassioned letter to Wikipedia, for example, challenging the online encyclopedia’s preposterous contention that he was not a credible witness to his own life. More here. [...]



8 Philosophical Thought Experiments That I Illustrated To Broaden Your Mind

2018-01-23T20:42:06Z

The Missing Shade of Blue Helen De Cruz in Bored Panda: The thought experiment: A man has seen all colours, except one particular shade of blue. But he has seen other gradations of this colour, and if he were to...
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The Missing Shade of Blue

Helen De Cruz in Bored Panda:

The thought experiment: A man has seen all colours, except one particular shade of blue. But he has seen other gradations of this colour, and if he were to arrange them in his mind, it would become clear that there’s a gap. Would he be able to fill in the color using his own imagination?

Significance: Hume came up with this thought experiment as a counterexample to his idea that we learn about the world through experience. If that’s the case, we should not be able to fill in the missing shade of blue but it seems we can. Curiously though, when I presented this drawing to friends, they thought the man’s sweater was the missing shade of blue, but it isn’t! So perhaps it is not so easy to fill in the gap after all.

Source: Hume, D.(1748). Philosophical essays concerning human understanding. London: A. Millar.

More here.

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Peter Woit vs Sean Carroll: string theory, the multiverse, and Popperazism

2018-01-23T20:25:52Z

Massimo Pigliucci in Footnotes to Plato: The string and multiverse wars are going strong in fundamental physics! And philosophy of science is very much at the center of the storm. I am no physicist, not even a philosopher of physics,...Massimo Pigliucci in Footnotes to Plato: The string and multiverse wars are going strong in fundamental physics! And philosophy of science is very much at the center of the storm. I am no physicist, not even a philosopher of physics, in fact (my specialty is evolutionary biology), so I will not comment on the science itself. I take it that the protagonists of this diatribe are more than competent enough to know what they are talking about. But they keep bringing in Karl Popper and his ideas on the nature of science, as well as invoke — or criticize — Richard Dawid’s concept of non-empirical theory confirmation, so I feel a bit of a modest commentary as a philosopher of science is not entirely out of order. Let me begin with two caveats: first, there are many people involved in the controversy, including Sean Carroll, Peter Woit, Sabine Hossenfelder, George Ellis, and Joe Silk (not to mention astute commentators such as Lee Smolin and Jim Baggott). Refreshingly, almost all of them have respect for philosophy of science, unlike ignorant (of philosophy) physicists like Lawrence Krauss and Stephen Hawking. So, who knows, some of them may even read the following with some interest. Second, I actually know most of these people, obviously some better than others. I like and respect them all, even though — as we shall see — in this post I will come squarely down on one side rather than the other. And what are these sides? For this round, I’ll focus on an exchange between Sean Carroll and Peter Woit on the specific issue of multiverse theory, though the two disagree — for the same reasons — also about the status of string theory. More here. [...]



Masha Gessen: To Be, or Not to Be

2018-01-23T20:19:44Z

Masha Gessen in the New York Review of Books: The topic of my talk was determined by today’s date. Thirty-nine years ago my parents took a package of documents to an office in Moscow. This was our application for an...Masha Gessen in the New York Review of Books: The topic of my talk was determined by today’s date. Thirty-nine years ago my parents took a package of documents to an office in Moscow. This was our application for an exit visa to leave the Soviet Union. More than two years would pass before the visa was granted, but from that day on I have felt a sense of precariousness wherever I have been, along with a sense of opportunity. They are a pair. I have emigrated again as an adult. I was even named a “great immigrant” in 2016, which I took to be an affirmation of my skill, attained through practice—though this was hardly what the honor was meant to convey. I have also raised kids of my own. If anything, with every new step I have taken, I have marveled more at the courage it would have required for my parents to step into the abyss. I remember seeing them in the kitchen, poring over a copy of an atlas of the world. For them, America was an outline on a page, a web of thin purplish lines. They’d read a few American books, had seen a handful of Hollywood movies. A friend was fond of asking them, jokingly, whether they could really be sure that the West even existed. Truthfully, they couldn’t know. They did know that if they left the Soviet Union, they would never be able to return (like many things we accept as rare certainties, this one turned out to be wrong). They would have to make a home elsewhere. I think that worked for them: as Jews, they never felt at home in the Soviet Union—and when home is not where you are born, nothing is predetermined. Anything can be. So my parents always maintained that they viewed their leap into the unknown as an adventure. I wasn’t so sure. After all, no one had asked me. More here. [...]



THE MATERIAL LIFE OF CRITICISM

2018-01-23T14:47:00Z

Andy Hines at Public Books: Three new histories of literary study draw attention to the critic’s material life. Literary Criticism: A Concise Political History, by Joseph North, Paraliterary: The Making of Bad Readers in Postwar America, by Merve Emre, and... Andy Hines at Public Books: Three new histories of literary study draw attention to the critic’s material life. Literary Criticism: A Concise Political History, by Joseph North, Paraliterary: The Making of Bad Readers in Postwar America, by Merve Emre, and Poet-Critics and the Administration of Culture, by Evan Kindley, all portray critics and readers subject to global capital flows, geopolitical shifts, and institutional administration. Each widens the range of sites where we can see criticism taking place: a grant-making foundation office (Kindley), an American Express storefront (Emre), and a web page like the one you’re reading right now (North). Methodologically, too, each departs from what Jeffrey Williams three years ago dubbed “the new modesty in literary criticism.” In the wake of Sharon Marcus and Stephen Best’s 2009 essay “Surface Reading,” critics increasingly feel compelled to describe rather than diagnose. These books, instead, do both. Take a sentence from North’s book: “It is then merely to state the obvious to observe that the discipline’s future shape will depend most of all on the character of whatever new period of capital [emerges] in the wake of the current crisis.”  more here. [...]



on Dostoevsky’s sketches and calligraphy

2018-01-23T14:43:00Z

Robert Bird at the TLS: Dostoevsky’s gateless fortress also reminds us that, as a trained draughtsman, he thought in images no less than in words. He wrote frequently about painting, and many of his key terms suggest visual, rather than...

(image) Robert Bird at the TLS:

Dostoevsky’s gateless fortress also reminds us that, as a trained draughtsman, he thought in images no less than in words. He wrote frequently about painting, and many of his key terms suggest visual, rather than verbal communication, from “impression” (vpechatlenie) to “disfiguration” (bezobrazie). In his novels major characters first emerge as faces, and then persist as gazes; think of the self-sacrificing prostitute Sonya Marmeladova staring silently at Raskolnikov in her squalid room, and then at the crossroads. Countless artists and film­makers have been moved to transpose Dostoevsky’s fictions into new works of visual art. It is no great surprise, then, that his manuscripts teem with calligraphic exercises and graphic doodles.

As the culmination of decades of pioneering research, Konstantin Barsht has produced a comprehensive dictionary of graphic devices in Dostoevsky’s manuscripts. The Drawings and Calligraphy of Fyodor Dostoevsky is published in three languages (English, Italian and Russian) as the first entry in a new series, Calligrammes, dedicated to the intersection of graphic art and literature.

more here.

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Cézanne Portraits

2018-01-23T14:38:00Z

T.J. Clark at the LRB: So finally I am on the side of the extremists, the Becketts and Sedlmayrs. ‘Loss of world’ is in question in Cézanne’s art, because – Lawrence in particular insists on this – the artist knows...T.J. Clark at the LRB: So finally I am on the side of the extremists, the Becketts and Sedlmayrs. ‘Loss of world’ is in question in Cézanne’s art, because – Lawrence in particular insists on this – the artist knows that ‘world’ has become, or is fast becoming, a cliché. The more talk of Gemeinschaft, the deeper each individual’s isolation. There seems, to put it baldly, no good alternative to the Sedlmayr view, or at least to its basic assumption. Certainly the idea that Cézanne’s approach to picture-making is essentially technical and ‘objective’, locked in a painter’s preserve (the Charles Morice proposal, which will never die), is useless. It offers false comfort. Cézanne is not in the least ‘detached’ from his sitters, he is relentlessly intimate with them. It is what he proposes intimacy to be that is the terror. He seems to have wanted, maybe to have achieved – with Madame Cézanne, whom he did not live with, with the various Parisian men he distrusted, with the Aixois peasants he paid to sit still – an existence with others that did not depend on an exchange of insides. A behaviour without the pejorative ‘behaviourism’ attached to it. ‘Material of a strictly peculiar order, incommensurable with all human expressions whatsoever.’ There is a cluster of poems by Wallace Stevens, mostly from the 1940s, that seems to me helpful. I think they were written with Cézanne in mind. ‘Less and Less Human, O Savage Spirit’ is central, and especially the poem’s conviction that ‘It is the human that is the alien,/The human that has no cousin in the moon. more here. [...]



Tuesday Poem

2018-01-23T14:25:28Z

"As long as homo sapiens are involved you'll never remove the static or stain of history." — Alle Zwecklos Homework —Homage Kenneth Koch If I were doing my laundry I'd wash my dirty Iran I'd throw in my United States,..."As long as homo sapiens are involved you'll never remove the static or stain of history." — Alle Zwecklos Homework —Homage Kenneth Koch If I were doing my laundry I'd wash my dirty Iran I'd throw in my United States, and pour on the Ivory Soap, scrub up Africa, put all the birds and elephants back in             the jungle, I'd wash the Amazon river and clean the oily Carib & Gulf of Mexico, Rub that smog off the North Pole, wipe up all the pipelines in Alaska, Rub a dub dub for Rocky Flats and Los Alamos, Flush that sparkly             Cesium out of Love Canal Rinse down the Acid Rain over the Parthenon & Sphinx, Drain the Sludge out of the Mediterranean basin & make it azure again, Put some blueing back into the sky over the Rhine, bleach the little Clouds so snow return white as snow, Cleanse the Hudson Thames & Neckar, Drain the Suds out of Lake Erie Then I'd throw big Asia in one giant Load & wash out the blood &             Agent Orange, Dump the whole mess of Russia and China in the wringer, squeeze out the tattletail Gray of U.S. Central American police state, & put the planet in the drier & let it sit 20 minutes or an Aeon till it came out clean Alan Ginzberg. [...]



Sheherzad Preisler introducing The 15th Harvey Preisler Memorial Symposium

2018-01-23T12:11:22Z

allow="autoplay; encrypted-media" allowfullscreen="" frameborder="0" height="315" src="https://www.youtube.com/embed/wN6GIYmUgV0" width="560">

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When a Partner Cheats

2018-01-23T12:08:04Z

Jane E. Brody in The New York Times: Marriages fall apart for many different reasons, but one of the most common and most challenging to overcome is the discovery that one partner has “cheated” on the other. I put the...Jane E. Brody in The New York Times: Marriages fall apart for many different reasons, but one of the most common and most challenging to overcome is the discovery that one partner has “cheated” on the other. I put the word cheated in quotes because the definition of infidelity can vary widely among and within couples. Though most often it involves explicit sexual acts with someone other than one’s spouse or committed partner, there are also couples torn asunder by a partner’s surreptitious use of pornography, a purely emotional relationship with no sexual contact, virtual affairs, even just ogling or flirting with a nonpartner. Infidelity is hardly a new phenomenon. It has existed for as long as people have united as couples, married or otherwise. Marriage counselors report that affairs sometimes occur in happy relationships as well as troubled ones. According to the American Association for Marriage and Family Therapy, national surveys indicate that 15 percent of married women and 25 percent of married men have had extramarital affairs. The incidence is about 20 percent higher when emotional and sexual relationships without intercourse are included. As more women began working outside the home, their chances of having an affair have increased accordingly. Volumes have been written about infidelity, most recently two excellent and illuminating books: “The State of Affairs: Rethinking Infidelity” by Esther Perel, a New York psychotherapist, and “Healing from Infidelity” by Michele Weiner-Davis, a psychotherapist in Boulder, Colo. Both books are based on the authors’ extensive experience counseling couples whose relationships have been shattered by affairs. The good news is, depending upon what caused one partner to wander and how determined a couple is to remain together, infidelity need not result in divorce. In fact, Ms. Perel and other marriage counselors have found, couples that choose to recover from and rebuild after infidelity often end up with a stronger, more loving and mutually understanding relationship than they had previously. “People who’ve been betrayed need to know that there’s no shame in staying in the marriage — they’re not doormats, they’re warriors,” Ms. Weiner-Davis said in an interview. “The gift they provide to their families by working through the pain is enormous.” Ms. Perel concedes that “some affairs will deliver a fatal blow to a relationship.” But she wrote, “Others may inspire change that was sorely needed. Betrayal cuts to the bone, but the wound can be healed. Plenty of people care deeply for the well-being of their partners even while lying to them, just as plenty of those who have been betrayed continue to love the ones who lied to them and want to find a way to stay together.” More here. [...]



The Costs of Free Speech

2018-01-22T10:59:00Z

by Gerald Dworkin In October, 1961, I was sitting in The Jazz Workshop, a San Francisco nightclub, listening to Lenny Bruce doing his infamous routine Are there any Niggers here tonight? It begins with asking that question and proceeds to...by Gerald Dworkin In October, 1961, I was sitting in The Jazz Workshop, a San Francisco nightclub, listening to Lenny Bruce doing his infamous routine Are there any Niggers here tonight? It begins with asking that question and proceeds to make comments using racial slurs for every racial group he could--kikes, guineas, wops, spics, polacks, sheenies, etc. His point, as he explains in the routine, was to routinize the words, so that they lost their shocking impact and obtained the status, as he says, of "I swear to tell the truth, the whole truth and nothing but the truth"  He was arrested that night not for the racial slurs but for obscenity—his "to is a preposition, come is a verb" routine. Bruce spent most of his professional life being arrested and prosecuted by the police in various jurisdictions—always for obscenity.  He was convicted in New York State, died during the appeals process, and in 2003 given a posthumous pardon by Governor Pataki. I was therefore both amused and shocked to see in recent weeks that Bruce was under attack again. This time by some angry students and faculty of Brandeis University. An alumnus of the University had written a play about Bruce and it was scheduled to be performed on campus. Some members of the theatre department raised objections and felt that more time was needed to produce the play "appropriately" and some students objected that the portrayal of its black characters was "ridiculous and vicious." The playwright decided to take the play elsewhere for its premiere. This was one of the calmer instances of an attack on expression. In recent months student protests have led to cancellation of speaker talks, to disruption of invited speakers, to violence and destruction on campus. The names of Charles Murray, Milo Yiannopoulos, Ben Shapiro, Ann Coulter, Richard Spencer and the campuses of Evergreen State College, Middlebury, University of Michigan, UC Berkeley, University of Florida, Yale, University of Missouri, are known to many. For a view of what one such protest looks, and sounds, like, click here. Less well known are impingements on the speech of faculty by their peers and administrations. Faculty at Bard protested Marc Jongen, a PhD in Philosophy, and affiliated with a far-right Nationalist party in Germany, being invited to be a participant in a conference at Bard College. The  history faculty of the Federated History Department at New Jersey Institute of Technology (NJIT) and Rutgers University, Newark called for Jason Jorjani, a humanities lecturer at NJIT with a PhD in philosophy from SUNY Stony Brook, to be fired because of his alleged alt-right sympathies. Lest one think that the attacks on faculty come only from the left a recent article in Inside Higher Education lists Keeanga Yamahtta-Taylor, Johnny Eric Williams, Sarah Bond, Tommy Curry and George Ciccariello-Maher as recent targets of the right's campaign against higher education.  A graduate student teaching a tutorial on language to communications student at Laurier University in Canada was hauled into a meeting with two professors and an administration official and accused of having created a "toxic climate" on campus. Her crime was that in discussing the current debate over gender and pronoun use she had shown a film clip of a debate on the topic between two University of Toronto professors. One of them—it was a debate after all—was known as a provocative critic of campus culture and opposed a proposed bill that would protect gender identity from hate speech.  In this case the ou[...]



Perceptions

2018-01-22T05:40:00Z

Fang Zhaoling. Flowering Branches on Cliffs, 1978. Ink and color on paper. More here and here.

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Fang Zhaoling. Flowering Branches on Cliffs, 1978.

Ink and color on paper.

More here and here.

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Embracing Dürer

2018-01-22T12:19:24Z

by Brooks Riley "They are shape, form, waiting to emerge. They present the plastic possibilities of life," Albrecht Dürer said this of the pillows in various states of rumpled use that he drew on the back of a piece of...by Brooks Riley "They are shape, form, waiting to emerge. They present the plastic possibilities of life," Albrecht Dürer said this of the pillows in various states of rumpled use that he drew on the back of a piece of paper he had been using to draw hands, wasting no surface to explore the ‘plastic possibilities' of everything. I see him wake up in the morning and look down at the pillow where his head had been, punching it a few times, contemplating the mutability of its form, and arriving at that morning epiphany about art itself. The impression of a tousled head still lurking in the pillow's shadowed indentation conjures a ghost whose presence can be felt if not seen, with an imagined long single golden strand of hair left behind within its folds. A hint of Dürer's personality emerges from this fantasy, of a man who found wonder in all things—a pillow, a weeded piece of turf, a hare, a deformed pig, a rhinoceros, an iris, a beached whale. He would spend a lifetime exploring the elusive secrets of beauty and mathematics in nature, and nature and beauty in mathematics. Personality is like ether, it hovers in the atmosphere long after death. Decades, even centuries later, long after the end of memories, traces of it move through the air like a fleet aroma caught at just the right odd moment. Where did that come from? It is elusive, and cannot be captured or bottled or even explained. Such is the personality of Dürer. It rises like a mist from a certain landscape seen from the train. It lurks in the amusing portraits of friends like Stefan Paumgartner as St. George, or Willibald Pirckheimer imbibing at the baths, or the selfie pointing to the pain in his spleen. It rages in two haunting, nude sketches of himself. Or radiates in that iconic self-portrait from 1500, which hung in his atelier, never for sale but as constant reminder of the perfection he would strive for with his self-proclaimed ‘diligence', that most German of virtues—a quasi-blasphemous Christ-like pose that sanctified his art through his person. Thomas Hoving once called it ‘the single most arrogant, annoying and gorgeous portrait ever created,' missing the point—or perhaps not. It was so life-like, Dürer's dog ran over to it and started licking it before the paint was quite dry. Of the plethora of explanations for this work, I like to think he painted it in case the Apocalypse predicted for 1500 really happened. I will survive, it says. And he did. In 1500, Dürer was exactly midway through his life, which straddled the centuries with poetic symmetry—28 years on each side of the century divide. Belonging to no school, and without wealthy patrons, he forged his own career and became a self-made man by selling woodcuts and engravings in marketplaces as far away as Frankfurt. At a crossroad of Christianity, he was a passionate fan of Martin Luther without ceasing to be Catholic. It made sense. Long before the Reformation, Dürer had published his book of woodcuts depicting the Apocalypse with both Latin and German texts (it sold like hotcakes just before the dreaded turn of the century), and was on his way to becoming a reformer on his own.   Dürer wasn't in love with himself, not in the ways we think of narcissists today. He was in awe of his talent, ‘a curse as well as a blessing', which drove him to obliterate the limitations of acceptable subject matter to explore every possibility of expression that gift might serve. Along the way he became a trailblazer in self-portraiture, landscape[...]



Poem

2018-01-22T05:30:00Z

Doctor Qureshi Dares My Mother “Maryam Jaan,” he says, “You must be proud of your son Farouk, his wealth —praise Allah— how he has made himself great in America.” The doctor’s white hair is unruly like mine, his bi-focals tipsy,...Doctor Qureshi Dares My Mother “Maryam Jaan,” he says, “You must be proudof your son Farouk, his wealth —praise Allah—how he has made himself great in America.” The doctor’s white hair is unruly like mine,his bi-focals tipsy, his elbows reston the mahogany table hand-crafted in Mexico for Ethan Allen,classic Yankee firm Farouk reinventedover the past 30 years over and over again to help those who need help to make their homesbeautiful. He sits as usual at the head, his dark hairslicked back, eyebrows arched at the dare. Waitaminute, how unfair of the doctorwho goads my ami to choose favorites betweentwo sons, her betas, a Chairman of the Board bankroller of Ami’s pricey healthcare,and a dim bulb in the six light trumpetchandelier bouncing of the buffed grain.  Dear doctor, faithful friend, first Pakistani champof the Scarsdale Bridge Club—mashallah—keep oninjecting Ami with B12, her weekly fix, hear her heart beat, hold her gnarled hands as shebegs you use your wealth of healing savvy,even declare martial law to please stop voices, only voices always in her head,but don’t provoke her as she sits up ona Chippendale, sips saffron-infused Kashmiri kahva from a china cup gold-rimmed hemdupatta slips to her shoulders, “DoctorQureshi sahib,” she says, meeting his gaze across the wide expanse of burnished veneer,more geography than physiology on her face,“I am proud of all my children.” Soaring along the shoreline of Long Island Sound,I’m as far from New Rochelleas America is from a crescent zoon.  Urdu/English: jaan/my life; mashallah/praise allah; dupatta/veilKashmiri/English: zoon / moon by Rafiq Kathwari, for Ejaz Qureshi [...]



Murky Waters

2018-01-22T10:48:21Z

My new book, Rivers of Ink: Selected Essays, was published by Oxford University Press in December 2017. The book is divided into five sections. The first part, 'Play on Words', comprises four essays on various aspects of contemporary writing, from multicultural adaptations of Shakespeare to representations of journalists in Pakistani fiction. Next comes a section about Pakistan's diverse cities and regions. After that, a grim segment entitled 'Human Rights and Inhuman Wrongs' examines cultural production and human rights abuses, including torture and acid attacks. The longest part, 'Muslims, Islamophobia, and Racism in Britain' brings together some of the research into these hot topics that I have been conducting for the last 13 years. The book's final part scrutinizes education, theory, and the culture industry.     Overall, I look at a range of authors – emerging as well as established, and working in genres including the novel, short stories, poetry, film, and drama – who write in various languages but most often English. I make a case for drawing this writing into the mainstream English canon. Rivers of Ink sounds a clarion call for expansion to the field of contemporary global literature.by Claire Chambers  At a Sheikh Zayed Book Award event in 2017, Marina Warner told the audience that the Arabic root word for water and story is the same. Both nouns, she claimed, relate to the verb 'to transfer', rawin being one way to say 'storyteller', while rawiya is 'to drink one's fill' or 'to be irrigated'. If the link between liquidity and storytelling is less immediately apparent in Urdu and other South Asian languages than it is in Arabic, nonetheless in the eleventh century Somadeva collected together Indian myths as the Kathā Sarit Sāgara ('Ocean of the Streams of Stories'), suggesting a similar understanding of the link between words and watery worlds. All this resonates with my new book, Rivers of Ink: Selected Essays, which was published by Oxford University Press last month. I eventually chose Rivers of Ink as my title when I realized how many words I'd written in my journalistic outpourings for this fine blog 3 Quarks Daily, as well as for Dawn and other outlets, over the course of five years. The phrase comes from the Spanish idiom verter ríos de tinta meaning to pour rivers of ink, corresponding to the English saying, 'much ink has been spilt'. If even a fraction of the ink cartridges I drained over the last half-decade were in service of equality, anti-racism, and internationalism, or (re)introduced readers to a confident and diverse body of texts, I will be happy. Coincidentally, Rivers of Ink recalls the titles of two influential subcontinental novels: Qurratulain Hyder's Aag ka darya (River of Fire), which deals, amongst other subjects, with Partition and the post-Second World War South Asian diaspora; and River of Smoke, in which the nineteenth-century Opium Wars enable Amitav Ghosh to impart wisdom on present-day globalization and the political grounds of free trade arguments. Through my image of a fast-moving body of dark, blackened water — a liquid usually associated with purity, vitality, and the capacity for cleansing — I was also extending a brief but heartfelt nod to two feminist texts. Turkish novelist Elif Shafak's memoir of her postnatal breakdown and her writing life, Black Milk, has meant a great deal to me as a scribbling mother. And, as if in photographic negative, the title of French feminist Hélène Cixous's collection White Ink also calls to mind breast milk, suggesting the distinctiveness of women's writing, or what Cixous terms écriture féminine. Especially to British readers, the idiom[...]



The scaffolding of our lives

2018-01-22T10:45:11Z

by Mathangi Krishnamurthy I have come to the beach to drown out the heartbreak and listlessness and senselessness of life in the moment. I look at these waves that swallow everything. Tishani Doshi writes in "What the Sea Brought In",...by Mathangi Krishnamurthy I have come to the beach to drown out the heartbreak and listlessness and senselessness of life in the moment. I look at these waves that swallow everything. Tishani Doshi writes in "What the Sea Brought In", of a laundry list of things suddenly seen: "Brooms, brassieres, empty bottles of booze. The tip of my brother's missing forefinger. Bulbs, toothpaste caps, instruments for grooming. Chestnuts, carcass of coconut, crows, crabs. Three dying fish, four dead grandparents. Slippers of every stripe: rubber, leather, Rexine, felt." I stare at the sea, and draw my own list of things to send back. Twenty seven photographs, two concert ticket stubs, three new years' parties, two hundred and eight measures of gin and tonic, a body, three sets of new sheets, five coffee mugs, three wine glasses (one broken), a foot board, three dogs (one disappeared), a rash vest, a pack of cards, a seventh grade mark sheet, a polka dotted dress, my first résumé, a coffee machine, two home videos, one voice recording, too many words to count, fifty seven lines of control, five long weeks of silence. I am tired. Like Aragorn, I look left, right, east, west, something, and at just the opportune moment, I espy fireworks, orange, fuschia, and dazzlingly green; I am momentarily light. Perhaps, this is why that moment in "The Two Towers", when awash in golden light, Gandalf and the Rohirrim arrive in deus ex machina fashion is on my top ten list of movie-manipulated affects. When younger, I loved myself some death and glory. Now older, I look for hope and redemption. Perhaps, this is why I, like so many others, am deliciously compelled by Pixar's 2017 runaway hit, "Coco". A poignant ode to culture and family, I read the film in this moment, as also about loss. And the complex yearnings of both, those who lose and those who fear being lost. In other words, as media studies scholars might say, I like many others have re-mediated "Coco" to set alight my own world. My family keeps sorrow down and under. We sulk and weep in corners, backs to each other, aware, complicit and unseeing. And we do not think about endings. Or death. And for days after watching "Coco", I asked questions. Does the possibility of our deaths animate our lives enough? Should we make a list of things we would want people to think about when we are gone? What are the fantastical powers of memory to re-animate and re-invigorate? Can we extend such remembrance and memory to more of us in the world? Can we re-sacralize dead bodies that come and go in moments of mass media consumption and upheaval? What does it mean to lose someone, some thing, any one, many ones, many things? The world is full of strange forms of longing, available in familiar structures. Loss reappears again and again. You will lose your keys, you will lose your loves, and so as Elizabeth Bishop famously wrote, "The art of losing isn't hard to master...though it may look like (Write it!) like disaster." Once, on February the 14th of 1997, I lost my wallet, when perched in a parking lot, on one of a series of motorbikes. In it were money, my driving license, a college identity card, and I don't remember, but perhaps my first credit card. I was devastated. But just as I let go of the possibility of ever recovering the paperwork of my life, the strangers that owned the bikes, called and found me and returned it all. I even imagined gi[...]



CATSPEAK

2018-01-22T10:31:52Z

by Brooks Riley

by Brooks Riley

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Sports, Fandom, And Happiness

2018-01-22T10:40:32Z

by Max Sirak "If you wish to be happy, Eragon, think not of what is to come nor of that which you have no control over but rather of the now and of that which you are able to change."...by Max Sirak "If you wish to be happy, Eragon, think not of what is to come nor of that which you have no control over but rather of the now and of that which you are able to change." (Christopher Paolini, Brisingr) "I believe that humans are primarily driven to seek greater happiness, but the definition of such is personal and cannot be dictated and should not be controlled by any group.."  (Michael Shermer, The Science Of Good and Evil) "It seems to me that every thing in the light and air ought to be happy, / Whoever is not in his coffin and the dark grave let him know he has enough."  (Walt Whitman, "Sleepers") "Don't let millionaires and billionaires ruin your day."  (Terry Pluto, The Cleveland Plain Dealer)   A Young Adult fantasy author, a science writer, an American poet, and a local sports columnist walk into a bar, grab a drink, bundle up, and then to go to a parade… Given the international, cosmopolitan flavor of 3qd, I'm not sure how many readers pay attention to American Football. Were I a betting man, I'd venture to guess Futbol trumps Football when it comes to our fan base. However, I've been wrong before and I'll be wrong again, so who knows?  Either way - today I'd like to call a time out and talk a little about sports, fandom, and philosophy. Take a knee, gang. First, An Aside  Tim is one of my best friends. Every year he organizes a pilgrimage to Bonnaroo, a gigantic music festival in Tennessee. There's over 100+ musical and comedy acts, performing on 10+ stages, from about noon each day until 6 am the next. Usually between 60 and 80 thousand people show up to camp in fields and listen to music. It's a damn good time. Tim's been leading these trips since 2003. Some years he has a group of 8-10 people. Other years the numbers in his caravan swell to more than 20. But, every year, regardless of turnout, he gives an introductory speech to his flock.  "Look, there are a million different things happening here at all hours of the day and night. Keeping the whole group together is going to be impossible. We are each in charge of managing our own fun." I Thought This Was About Sports? On January 6th, outside First Energy Stadium, home of the Cleveland Browns, in temperatures with a windchill of -3 F (-19.4 C), an estimated 3,000 people showed up to march around the stadium. The reason? The Browns put up a perfect season.  They lost all of their games. That's right.  Their record for the 2017 NFL season was 0-16.  As you can imagine, the Parade was polarizing. Some Cleveland Browns players tweeted their disgust, as is their right (here). Most stayed quiet, at least to the social-media-world-at-large. Local and national outlets wrote articles and editorials admonishing and analyzing. (Here, here, here, here, here). The man who organized the parade, season-ticket holder Chris McNeil, is on record saying part of the reason he engineered the event was to get the attention of team ownership as a form of protest. Fans can't take a knee. We can, however, throw a parade.  By many accounts, the parade was more festive than feisty. No violence. No arrests. Just a bunch of people, probably drunk, who cheer for the same team, and are in adage agreement with the company-loving nature of misery.  And, as a fellow Cleveland fan, I admire them. Some History I grew up in Ohio, 60 miles south of Cleveland. I remember being a little kid and bund[...]



Where do you live? Part 1

2018-01-22T10:38:07Z

by Christopher Bacas When the real estate agent parked in front of the office it was dark; an August day dwindling to eighty-five humid degrees. Air conditioners whirred and dripped from upstairs windows. He got out and stood by the...by Christopher Bacas When the real estate agent parked in front of the office it was dark; an August day dwindling to eighty-five humid degrees. Air conditioners whirred and dripped from upstairs windows. He got out and stood by the stairs, tie and shirt collar crisp and taut above his suit jacket. In waves of steamy funk, his rectitude and wardrobe contrasted our clammy sandals, shorts and sundress. We entered the railroad first floor of a row house. The entryway was dark, on the right, two bare work desks. Next off the hall, a dining room table with neatly tucked, high backed chairs. The manager, Michael, handled the lease. Our agent sat quietly. We'd been at these tables before. Something always derailed the deal. Once, ready to sign, Beth mentioned I was a musician. That manager slid the lease out from under her hands. Then, he hustled her out of the building. Another management office, Orthodox-run, gave us keys and an address to visit. When we got there, the front door of the brownstone swung back. Inside,a battered staircase listed to the right. Up the stairs, smells of stewing meat, garlic and ammonia. Boleros blasted through a chipped door. The third floor unit was wide open. On the door, the marshal's eviction notice peeled under a graffiti tag. Inside the unit,  moretags covered every wall. Garbage bags, smashed appliances and shards of glass spread the floors. In the bathroom, a dead bird swam with crack vials in a scarred tub. The toilet, a cornucopia of trash. I laughed at first. By the time I got to the car, anger dripped out of my pores.  "It looks great!"I told the young Orthodox woman in the office. She was blasé; never bothering to look up while pulling a clipboard with paperwork affixed. "You need to fill out an application. We need three references, six months of pay stubs and twelve months of cancelled rent checks. There's a credit check,too. Forty dollars." I spit out "Place is a DISASTER! Garbage and graffiti everywhere. Dead animals! The front door doesn't have a lock." She spoke evenly; more statement than question: "Yaw not in-ter-ested" I looked at Beth. "Let's get the fuck outta here" After paying too many of those credit check fees, we decided to get them refunded. Inside a small office on Ninth street in tony Park Slope, a lone woman typed behind the counter. It was evening. I asked for our agent by name. "She's out with a client" "Will she be back tonite?" "I don't know. Maybe not. It's late" "We wondered about our credit report" "Yes?" "Possible to see it?" "Why do you need to see it?" "It's our report. We paid for it" "I don't know where they are" "What's in that file cabinet?" "Contracts and leases" "Mind if I look for our credit report?" "It's probably not there" "Can I look, anyway?" "I don't have a key" I vaulted the counter and pulled each handle on the cabinet. The frame flexed and rattled, but all drawers stayed locked. The woman picked up an office phone and pressed out number. "Police emergency..... Yes. A man is trying to break into..." I hopped the counter again and ran out the door. Beth had the car started. We pulled out and drove toward the expressway. After we signed the lease and paid, Michael put keys and a business card on the table. Two names: an LLC and his own; six syllables ending with -is. Michael was defintely Greek. T[...]



The revolutionary ideas of Thomas Kuhn

2018-01-21T17:55:05Z

James A. Marcum in the Times Literary Supplement: Thomas Kuhn’s influence on the academic and intellectual landscape in the second half of the twentieth century is undeniable. It spans the natural sciences, and the historical and philosophical disciplines that examine...James A. Marcum in the Times Literary Supplement: Thomas Kuhn’s influence on the academic and intellectual landscape in the second half of the twentieth century is undeniable. It spans the natural sciences, and the historical and philosophical disciplines that examine them, through to the fine arts and even to business. But what did Kuhn espouse? In brief, he popularized the notions of the paradigm and the paradigm shift. A paradigm for Kuhn is a bundle of puzzles, techniques, assumptions, standards and vocabulary that scientists endorse and employ to undertake their day-to-day activities and thereby make remarkable advances in understanding and explaining the natural world. What Kuhn unintentionally achieved, however, was to open the epistemic floodgates for non-scientific disciplines to rush through. Justin Fox, in a 2014 Harvard Business Review article, to take a single example, queries whether economics is on the verge of “a paradigm shift”. Kuhn has his detractors and critics, of course – those who charge him with almost every conceivable academic failing, especially the promotion of relativism and irrationalism. More here. [...]



For better science, call off the revolutionaries

2018-01-21T17:49:56Z

Pardis Sabeti in the Boston Globe: EVEN IN SCIENCE, revolutions often go far beyond reason. This year, let’s hope that scientists of all stripes — but especially social psychologists — will slow down and start approaching one another with greater...Pardis Sabeti in the Boston Globe: EVEN IN SCIENCE, revolutions often go far beyond reason. This year, let’s hope that scientists of all stripes — but especially social psychologists — will slow down and start approaching one another with greater respect. For decades, the field of social psychology has captured the public imagination with high-profile research into how humans interact. Will people obey authority figures even when it involves hurting others? How do stereotypes shape human interactions? Are facial expressions of emotion universal across cultures? All of these are questions that social psychology tries to answer. But the field is in the midst of a revolution that could end up destroying new ideas before they are fully explored — a cautionary tale not just for this field, but for all of science. Spurred by new methods and statistical techniques, a group of “revolutionaries” — scientists and Internet bloggers both inside and outside the field — have taken it upon themselves to weed out “faulty” science. In forums such as the websites Data Colada, Replicability-Index, and Statistical Modeling, Causal Inference, and Social Science, scholars are being urged to focus on replicating the results of past studies and to reconsider their own findings if subsequent research undercuts them. Done responsibly, the revolution is something all scientists could agree is fundamental to advance the field, enabling robust and verifiable discoveries about human psychology, behavior, and biology. Like many revolutions, however, it has not been a peaceful one. More here. [...]



The 'Underground Railroad' To Save Atheists

2018-01-21T17:42:44Z

David Robson in The Atlantic: Lubna Yaseen was a student in Baghdad when death threats forced her into exile. Her crime was to think the unthinkable and question the unquestionable—to state, openly, that she was an atheist. Growing up in...David Robson in The Atlantic: Lubna Yaseen was a student in Baghdad when death threats forced her into exile. Her crime was to think the unthinkable and question the unquestionable—to state, openly, that she was an atheist. Growing up in Hillah, a city in central Iraq, she developed an independent mind at a young age. “My mother is an atheist intellectual person, and she brought up me and my siblings to think for ourselves and to be open to anything,” she told me. Yaseen was particularly concerned about her teachers’ attitudes toward women. “I always asked why girls should wear a hijab and boys are not obligated to do so,” she said. Why would “God” treat the two sexes differently? She quickly learned the dangers of expressing these views: Her teachers often threw her out of their classes, and sometimes beat her. In 2006, when Yaseen and her mother were driving home one day, al-Qaeda militants pulled them over and threatened to kill them for not wearing the hijab. Still, Yaseen’s desire to explore secular thinking grew at university. “I couldn’t keep my mouth shut. Whenever there was a conversation, I talked.” She started handing out leaflets on Mutanabbi Street, the heart of Baghdad’s intellectual life, and wrote about her atheist beliefs on Facebook. Her activism attracted further threats from fellow students and local Islamist militia groups, but she was determined to continue. “I believed in my rights to be who I am,” she said. More here. [...]



Dolores O’Riordan (1971 - 2018)

2018-01-21T17:36:40Z

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fast eddie clarke (1950 - 2018)

2018-01-21T14:22:00Z

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José Molina (1936 - 2018)

2018-01-21T14:18:00Z

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